NHL hockey has finally returned.
Three weeks into the shortened season, all the questions as to whether fans of the game were going to return have been answered.
We have seen an increase in business since the NHL has started back up.
— Graham Cocking
Not only do the TV ratings and attendance levels at NHL arena’s lead to this conclusion, so too, does business at local Scarborough establishments.
“We have seen a lot more excitement around the rink after the NHL has been back. People are genuinely excited to have hockey back and it has certainly shown in the after-game activity we have at the facility,” said Graham Cocking, general manager of both the Scarborough and Victoria Park Canlan Ice Sports.
Cocking is also in charge of The Thirsty Penguin Grillhouse, situated above the four ice pads located inside the Scarborough rink.
During the NHL lockout, there was talk that fans would not be overzealous to return to the game. However, that does not seem to be the case.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, through six home games, have managed an average attendance of 19,257. Compared to last season, when the team averaged 19,506 in attendance for the whole season, fans have returned near to the same levels.
On the TV side of business, the first game of the regular season shown on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, featuring a match-up between the Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens set records.
An average of 3.3 million people tuned in to the game and it was viewed, at some point, by 27 per cent of the Canadian population. Both of these stats, set new highs for a regular season game on the network.
Although everything seems just fine and dandy, some Scarborough fans are still a little bitter about losing three months of hockey.
A manager at a popular local hockey spot, has noticed that some people are still a little disappointed by the way the season turned out.
She says hockey fans are happy to be able to watch the game again but are unhappy about the whole ordeal. She goes on to say, that fans seem to carry a chip on their shoulder concerning the lockout.
If hockey fans are not proud of the way the league and the players worked out their problems, it does not seem to be stopping them from enjoying the games.
“We have seen an increase in business since the NHL has started back up,” Cocking said.
Although hockey was not the only professional sport being played, a sports bar inside an arena generally tries to play to its strengths.
“In some cases, they were not coming up at all. After the Raptors got off to a slow start, there was not a lot of compelling sports on television for people to come up to,” Cocking explained. “You realized there was a huge void with the NHL being out the first three months of the season.”
A Canadian winter is just not the same without hockey for fans of the game.
“I mean the atmosphere is everything,” Cocking said. “Now that the NHL is on we got the big screen TV going, the full stereo surround sound and we got guys staying to watch the game.”
“A few beers with the boys afterwards, some wings and some good hockey … you can’t go wrong.”